These days, it seems like everyone needs to be saving more and spending less. As our daughter grows up and starts school, her needs and activities are changing, and starting to cost more, (and more, and more), and of course, the cost of college is already always looming, though it's still far away for us. For all these reasons, I've been looking for some easy ways to start saving more and spending less. Here's what I've found:
1) Drive less: Try biking, car pooling, walking, scooting or using public transportation if you are trying to save. The cost of gas is a significant drain on most household budgets these days, and can be cut down with some simple planning ahead. Plus, the extra activity and exercise is always good for you and your family. And fun!
2) Shop less: Delete all those coupon and store emails you have signed up for; they are only constant reminders that stores want you to go spend more of your money and put it in their pockets. Shop only when you really need to, and consider buying stuff second-hand, sometimes. We always had used bikes, books and clothes growing up, and they worked just fine. Consider also selling stuff your kids have outgrown on ebay.com or at consignment stores, or swapping for things you need for their next stages.
3) Plan your meals and grocery shopping ahead: Make a list of your meal plan for the week, or at least half the week, and stick to those ingredients plus your pantry essentials and healthy fresh snack food. Going to the grocery store without a plan always leads me to spend a lot more and buy much more than I need or can even cook or eat with my family. Instead, try looking in your fridge before you set out, plan to use up what you do have already, and you'll be able to save a whole bunch of time and money. Plus, if you can plan for the week or at least several days and meals, you'll save gas and energy because you won't have to drive to the store as often.
4) Make a budget: When I recently sat down to try to figure out how to spend less, I wasted all this time and energy going back through many months of statements, trying to figure out what I was spending too much on. I realize that I was doing it all backwards. The right way to budget is to simply write down how much money you have / make each month, then subtract your non-optional expenses from that, such as health insurance, childcare costs, loan payments, electric and other utility bills. Then see how much you have left to work with, and set yourself a realistic budget for food, activities and other miscellaneous. You can set a savings goal too, which will help motivate you to find creative ways to shop within your new budget.
Do you have any money saving tips to share?
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